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IHG has long offered the most generous Best Rate Guarantee in the hotel business – a completely free night (even on one night bookings) if you found a cheaper comparable rate elsewhere. Although the terms of the offer were continually tightened up over the years, to the extent that finding an eligible rate was very hard, I’ve still had some ‘jackpot’ claims in the past, saving me £1,000s. Well, all that fun is now over. The old IHG Best Rate Guarantee is effectively dead.
Instead of offering a free night, the new IHG Best Rate Guarantee pledges to match the lower price found elsewhere and provide 5 times the standard number of IHG Reward Club Points earned from the booking.
The important terms of the new IHG Best Rate Guarantee are as follows (full terms here):
4. Book. To be eligible for the Program, you must have a confirmed reservation made through an IHG direct channel, such as an IHG website, call center or the mobile app. The reservation must be booked using the “Best Available” search feature to find the lowest rate available for the chosen room type.
5. Find a Lower Rate. If you find a lower rate on an eligible, non-IHG website within 24 hours of making your reservation on the IHG direct channel, and it is more than 24 hours before the standard check-in time for the hotel where you made your reservation, tell us about it by completing and submitting the online claim form (“Claim Form”). We will verify the lower rate by comparing the rate found on the IHG website or mobile app with the rate found on the non-IHG website for the same hotel, room type, stay dates, number of guests, and cancellation policy.
6.Here are the things we’ll verify when we process your claim. The non-IHG website rate must be:
- 6.a. In the same currency as the rate you booked through an IHG channel;
- 6.b. Available to the general public – in other words, you are not required to sign up for any kind of membership or be part of any program, or login to a website, to obtain the rate;
- 6.c. Available to book at the time of verification;
- 6.d. Bookable only if you provide a form of payment to complete the booking (rates that do not require a form of payment are ineligible!); and
- 6.e. At least 1% lower than the current, lowest rate available on the IHG website or mobile app – this accounts for any rounding errors!
The Program applies only to rates found on non-IHG websites that meet all of the above criteria.
7.Examples of rates that are INELIGIBLE for the Program include the following:
- 7.a. Rates that are not available to the general public (such as negotiated rates, member or loyalty rates, group rates, corporate rates);
- 7.b. Rates that are not visible to, or bookable by, the general public without additional requirements such as residing in a particular geography, using a login with a username/password, using a specific credit card, using a discount code/coupon, or that require approval/verification via e-mail or phone after payment is submitted;
- 7.c. Rates on websites that don’t disclose the brand or hotel until the reservation is made;
- 7.d. Rates on auction websites or that you book using a similar process;
- 7.e. Package rates that include the room and other components such as transportation, car rental, entertainment, and/or non-breakfast meals;
- 7.f. Rates on websites that allow confirmed reservations to be re-sold;
- 7.g. Rates on websites that do not provide immediate confirmation, that do not result in an actual hotel reservation, or that do not provide the ability to make a real-time reservation;
8. File Claim: Within 24 hours of booking your reservation on an IHG direct channel, and at least 24 hours before the standard check-in time for the hotel where you booked your reservation, complete and submit the online Claim Form. Only one claim will be processed per hotel room reservation confirmation number.
9.Valid Claims. If we can verify your claim, we will adjust the rate on the reservation you booked through an IHG direct channel to the lower average nightly rate found on the non-IHG website at the time of verification, and award 5X (5 times) the IHG Rewards Club points for your room rate (the “5X Points Award”), up to a 40,000-point maximum.
10. The 5X Points Award will be calculated on the room rate only, and will not include any other charges billed to your hotel room portfolio. To receive the 5X Points Award, your IHG Rewards Club number must be added to your reservation before check-out at the hotel. IHG Rewards Club Members with a miles earning preference will earn Points.
What is 5 x Points worth?
Base earnings are 10 IHG Reward Club Points per $1 USD, so with 5x you would get 50 Points per Dollar, or about 67 Points per £1.
I value IHG Points at somewhere 0.4p each, so you’re looking at getting about 25% back in Points.
~25% is actually more or less comparable to what competitors like Marriott, SPG and Hilton offer these days, though they offer cash discounts/refunds rather than Points and I think most people would rather have hard cash.
Assuming you value IHG Points at a similar rate to me, on stays of 4+ nights where you manage to file a successful claim, you will actually be doing the same or better as you would have done under the old IHG Best Rate Guarantee. For shorter stays though, there’s no denying that this is a significant negative change.
A silver lining?
I mentioned earlier that getting a claim accepted had become increasingly difficult, so perhaps we may at least see a relaxation on that front from now on. I’m not holding my breath to be honest, but it could happen.
The restrictions on claims had become quite irritating, but I’ll still miss the old IHG Best Rate Guarantee – we had some good times together while it lasted!